US Open Golf: Adam Hadwin of Canada holds the opening day limelight

At the end of day 1 in the US Open Golf, Adam Hadwin  of Abbotsford, British Columbia (Canada), was leading the pack . Interestingly, Hadwin, who  was not sure of his participation in the US Open until last week, has recorded his best ever score in a major golf tournament. He had to come through 36-hole qualifier. And at the end of day 1, he enjoys one shot lead.

With moderate wind and cloud cover keeping the sun from making greens crispy and firm, participants are generally in a good frame as the competition got underway on Thursday.

Challenged by a parallel golf circuit that has the backing of Saudi Arabia, there was lot of uncertainty as who all  would be participating in the prestigious US Open. Hadwin made an impressive start at Brookline. 

Now no one can talk about golf without referring to the  Saudi-funded league has been described by the  PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan as a “series of exhibition matches” that spends billions of dollars on players without getting a return on its investment.

It is pertinent to mention that some of the successful sporting events are governed by Associations. For example, ATP and WTA are the associations that watch the interest of tennis players participating in various events, including the grand slams and other prize money tournaments. Similarly, PGA had been controlling the game of golf.

At present, the worldwide sports industry is worth more than 145 billion Euros. Even a game like cricket joined the concept of the professional circuits. It was Australia’s Kerry Packer that introduced the concept of limited overs cricket with players sporting colourful playing kits. Earlier, cricketers used to don only white playing kits. If the colour of the cricket ball changed, it was because of Kerry Packer. Initially, his concept of instant cricket was called Packers’ circus. 

Though he was ousted but his concept lived on and led to popularising of the concept of instant cricket, initially in 50-overs a side cricket and then to T20 that have seen big money in the sport.

It may be one of the reasons for others or promoters of the  LIV Golf series  to try its concept prompted by Greg Norman that had the backing of the Saudi Arabia. When  LIV Golf series began and Monahan suspended all PGA Tour members who played at Centurion Golf Club outside London. Charl Schwartzel won the LIV Opener  that carried the purse of US $4.75 million for the winner. It was golf’s richest event. 

The LIV Golf Series has eight tournaments this year — five in the United States — with $25 million in prize money for each one, 54-hole events with no cut and 48-man fields. 

To lure top golfers into joining LIV Golf series, the promoters offered huge amounts for signing. The Daily Telegraph reported Johnson received $150 million, while Mickelson did not deny a report that he was paid $200 million for the start-up venture.  The duration of the deal to play in the series was, however, not made public. 

Several other top golfers, including  DeChambeau and Patrick Reed have  also signed up  for LIV Golf series and are expected to play the first U.S. event in Oregon at the end of the month. 

The PGA, however, maintains that it is not threatened by the LIV golf series as some of those who signed with the LIV Golf series have returned and are participating in the PGA events.

Those backing the PGA maintain that no other major is more open  than it. They quote the example of US Open where roughly half of the 156-man field has to qualify . This time seven of even of the top 13 came through qualifiers, including Hadwin. He was first alternate out of the Dallas section and got in when Paul Casey withdrew because of an ailing back.

Like cricket and many other sports, golf is essentially a summer sport. There a vibe of relief that focus could turn to a U.S. Open that first came to Brookline more than a century ago. And the first day of the US open  was  more about birdies and bogeys — mostly the latter in a U.S. Open — and a place in history.

As the action started, qualifier Adam Hadwin with three straight birdies  finished the front nine in 31. He only dropped one shot on the back nine for his 66. 

Close behind Adam Hadwin Callum Tarren of England, David Lingmerth of Sweden, MJ Daffue of South Africa and Joel Dahmen.

McIlroy, another top golfer,  has  been openly defending the PGA over the last few years, particularly with his rebuke of the Saudi-funded series that is disrupting golf. 

Competing in the US Open, McIlroy made two straight birdies late in his round to become the first player to reach 4 under, only to miss the ninth green and make his only bogey. He  has come to US Open after a victory last week in the Canadian Open. 

The group at 68 included two-time major winner Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose and Matt Fitzpatrick, who won the U.S. Amateur at Brookline in 2013.